Death Trance

June 17, 2010
If this film could be compared to anything mainstream, I'd say that Death Trance is akin to a samurai-oriented Dragonball Z. It's over-the-top, zany, filled with violence, and can oftentimes be insanely cheesy. I'd never heard of the film until a friend recommended it to me, so I had no idea as to what I was getting myself into by watching Death Trance. After all was said and done, let's just say that I'm not sure I completely trust my friend's opinion anymore. =P

The film follows Grave, a mysterious samurai, who's recently stolen a powerful artifact from a secret temple. This artifact is a heavily locked coffin which, according to legend, can grant a man's deepest wish if taken to a secluded area in the desert. However, the monks of the temple believe this legend to be a lie; the coffin actually contains the goddess of destruction, and the opening of the coffin will unleash the Apocalypse onto the world. What follows is a violent free-for-all as various forces (human and non-human) try to claim the mystical coffin for themselves.

Don't expect to find too much character or coherency in Death Trance. The film's absolutely not concerned with either, for better or worse. The characters are paper-thin, at best, and each only serve to either further the plot or spew stilted dialogue. This lack of character makes the film feel incredibly shallow and devoid of any real drama or emotion. Why should I care about so-and-so or such-and-such? I don't know them, I'm never given time to know them, and, by the end, I never got to understand or know them at all. Sadly, these characters are only meant to serve an incoherent and forgettable plot.

Speaking of the plot, the film starts out pretty decently in this aspect. I prefer character over plot, but the concept to the film seems relatively interesting. Samurai warrior fights legions of the unnatural to open up an evil coffin? Not great, but it sounds like it'd make for some decent eye-candy. However, any interest I had in the plot was killed when the "angel" aspect came in. This comes out of ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE. It's as if the the makers of the film had this idea halfway through production and screwed around with the script. It makes no sense with what's presented before-hand, and the little that does fit seems cheap. Oh, it turns out that so-and-so was actually such-and-such? Maybe if this twist wasn't cheap, and if I actually cared about these characters, I would've been pleasantly surprised.

When I said that the dialogue was awful, you have no idea how bad it actually is. It's almost like reading a teenage boy's novel - the screenwriter has no idea how to express emotion, use subtlety, or create life-like or interesting characters. I don't have a chip on my shoulder, but I think that *I* could create better characters than this.

I'll admit, however, that the film has a nice sense of style and action. Similar to Robert Rodriguez's graphic novel-style Desperado, the action is delightfully over-the-top and the violence is well choreographed. For instance, there's a character named Sid that just drips with cool and style. If you aren't slashed to death by his blade, he'll shoot you in the face with his Western-style revolver. Though the movie's characters and dialogue *suck*, the film certainly has some nice violence to look at.

Though Death Trance looks nice, it suffers in every other way. The characters are paper-thin, the dialogue's atrocious, and the plot twists are manipulative and incredibly stupid. I'm sure there's an audience for this film, but it's definitely not for the crowd that enjoys quality films.





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